The Morro Bay Watershed, located in San Luis Obispo County, California, covers more than 48,000 acres of land and discharges into Morro Bay through the Morro Bay National Estuary (MBNE). The Chorro Creek Subwatershed consists of approximately 30,000 acres of the overall watershed. The MBNE provides an ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife, from the common sea gull to the endangered sea otter. The estuary is also home to over 200 species of birds. The operational waterfront of the Morro Bay Harbor was and continues to be a strong supporter to the local economy of the City of Morro Bay. Numerous studies were conducted since the 1990s throughout the watershed to study the sedimentation of the estuary and bay and identified accelerated erosion and subsequent sedimentation as a major threat to sustainability of the bay. As a result, various Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been implemented in the watershed to reduce sediment loading and transport to the bay. Localized evaluations of various BMPs have been performed to investigate effectiveness of individual BMPs. This paper consolidates this information and develops a comprehensive spatially distributed watershed simulation model (1) for detailed understanding of the erosion and sedimentation processes in the watershed; (2) to evaluate a watershed scale effectiveness of the conservation practices that have been installed in the watershed; (3) to identify optimal BMP types and sites that may be used in the future to further reduce sedimentation of the bay at minimal cost; (4) to organize and document the various sources of data and studies that have been performed to date in the Chorro Creek subwatershed. Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to develop the model and to evaluate the pre and post BMP implementation characteristics in the subwatershed. Combining the data and efforts of past BMP evaluations, land use, soil type, climate data, and streamflow data, statistical evaluations, and model sensitivity analysis will help build and calibrate a robust SWAT model that can be used to track BMP evaluation efforts, as well as other watershed management tasks. Through the evaluation of BMPs in the watershed, efforts can be made to implement the more successful BMPs in the watershed or in other similar watersheds. Sensitivity analysis was performed using a global sensitivity analysis method and streamflow and sediment yield was calibrated using the Shuffled Complex Evolution-University of Arizona.


Civil and Environmental Engineering



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cenv_fac/266